I have a number of Tamasin Day-Lewis’s cookery books on my shelves and they are wonderful. Books to wonder at the wonderful images and quality writing, as well as an excellent source of recipes.
I think it would be fair to say that she is one of the heirs of Elizabeth David – a champion of organic, seasonal and regional ingredients.
I have enjoyed her writing in a number of magazines too and so when I discovered, courstesy of Linda, that she had written a memoir, I had to track down a copy.
The book was originally planned as an account of Tamasin’s year travelling with her American partner Rob, but it expanded to take in memories of her life with food too. And so this is an interesting melange of travelogue, memoir and recipe book.
And in many ways it succeeds. The recipes are of a high standard, the stories are varied, and there are moments when the writing about food is an absolute joy.
” I learned how to spike the sacraficial legs of lamb with slivers of garlic and stubs of fresh rosemary, which Serena cooked at nuclear temperatures until pink, and rested under silver foil and tea towels until the juices penetrated back through the meat. I whisked the batter for Yorkshires, then left it covered under a damp cloth, became acquainted with the sweet starchiness of roast parsnips that we never had at home, and which she always par-boiled with the roast potatoes. I wrote down notes for her buttery puree of mashed swede and carrot and her moire soignee carrots Vichy; for gravy flavoured with some sliced onion on which Serena always bedded the joint down before roasting it, which caramelised and blackened in the pan; for a perfectly sharp, light lemon mousse, that was at the time a la mode.”
“Our trip last year in the early autumn convinced us that every season in the Langhe is about a handful of dishes: a breathtakingly simple carpaccio of veal; a homemade tagliatelle with fresh porcini from the surrounding woods; the first white truffles, their raw scent seeping from the rich cream, butter, eggs or rice; cinghiale, rich, dark and braised to tenderness with a square of soft, sloppy, golden polenta to soak its juices into beneath; the last of the local white peaches or hazelnuts pounded into a paste and baked into an intensely flavoured torta di niccoliola from the nuts in the hazel groves where dogs and there owners dig secretly fro hidden troves of the mighty white truffle.”
When she writes like this Tamasin Day-Lewis is wonderful, but I’m afraid she has her failings too. She is a terrible name-dropper and she seemingly unaware of just how privileged she is. And there are moments when I felt the same way that I do when I am being talked at by someone who is completely oblivious to my response or the fact that I might have something to say too. Not good!
In cookery terms I would say this book was a lovely recipe with some wonderful ingredients spoiled by the wrong seasonings.
But I’ll put this behind me and hold on to my love for her recipes, her cookery books and her food writing!